Microsoft’s Xbox One day one edition has been dubbed “China Day One.” The first Western game console is now officially on sale. It marks the first time a Western game console has been sold legally in 14 years.
Earlier in the year, China lifted its ban on game console sales. Microsoft and Sony were quick to partner with Chinese companies to get the ball rolling for console launches.
One problem facing console makers is that China has to approve every Xbox One game for sale. This restriction hampered the Xbox One launch lineup in China. Just 10 games are available with many of Xbox One’s biggest hits including Titanfall and Destiny missing in action. Microsoft’s most popular video games will have a hard time making it past Chinese regulators who frown on violence in video games.
Microsoft and BesTV New Media say they have a lineup of more than 70 games coming to China including Halo and Killer Instinct. But, regulatory hurdles may prove too much to overcome. Publishers probably won’t want to redo large portions of their game in order to release it in an unproven market. Publishers like making money, not spending it remaking already released games.
So, what will happen? The most likely course is that publishers pick out their most non-violent games and bring those over. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare probably won’t get tapped for Chinese release, but something like Skylanders might.
I hope Xbox One fans in China have been saving up. The Xbox One edition with Kinect sells for 4,299 yuan ($700). Ouch. The same edition retails for $500 in the States. But, China’s market is a unique case “based on market conditions, tax, tariff and exchange rates,” Microsoft spokesman Steffi Cao told Bloomberg. While the hardware will be more expensive, games will be cheaper according to Cao.
Console makers face a major uphill battle in China. Chinese gamers are used to playing free to play games. Plus, the availability of AAA titles will dictate the success of the Xbox One in China. We’ll have to wait and see if Chinese regulators are willing to bend a little bit on violent video games.